Farmers of 22 households in Wangling, a small Monpa community in Langthel, Trongsa, are worried they would not be able to cultivate paddy this year also.

After floods washed away the irrigation canal completely in 2019, villagers could not cultivate paddy, leaving about 70 acres of fields barren.

Villagers said the irrigation was washed away in 2018 but they repaired it and cultivated paddy that year but in 2019, it was washed away completely and despite several attempts, they could not repair it.

A villager, Zeko Tashi, said they are now forced to buy more imported rice and with the price of commodities increasing, it’s difficult for them. “If we can grow rice, we can save huge amount.”

Farmers said if the canal is not repaired this year, it would be difficult for them.

With no shops in the locality, farmers have to walk for almost four hours to reach the nearest shop.

A villager, Phurpa, said that few people cultivated paddy with rainwater, but since they could not water the crop, production decreased.

He said they only bought imported rice earlier to make roasted rice (Zaw), but now for consumption.

Farmers have approached the gewog administration, requesting to repair the canal this year itself.  They said a concrete pillar was constructed last year, but it developed a crack and it failed.

Jangbi tshogpa, Lhagay, said they informed all relevant agencies.

He said the gewog administration has provided resources to maintain the canal, but as the flood area is about 150 meters, it was difficult to connect with pipes. “Only if an excavator is deployed, the canal would be connected.”

Langthel Gup Sonam Dhendup said that it was unable to resolve the issue. We have spent about 1.5 million for the restoration.

He said an expert from Thimphu and a focal person from the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) also inspected the site. “We came up with many possibilities, but as the canal was washed away and due to unstable soil, it failed.”

The gup said that they decided to connect water using a three inches drinking water pipe, but due to lockdown, they could not procure the materials.

It was learnt that the dzongkhag monitoring team also visited the site, but the villager feels the problem is left unsolved.

Meanwhile, a villager, Rinzinmo, said after being assured of restoring the canal, they grew paddy seedlings, but when it failed, they had to feed the seedlings to cattle.

“We are growing the seedling this year also. Hope they would repair the canal.”

While some people tried to grow cereals, most left the fields barren.

By Nim Dorji | Trongsa

Edited by Tashi Dema